December 2017 – Bulletin 204
Wartime Childhood in SW19 – John ‘Sandy’ Catanach
A Task Unfulfilled: Fry’s Metals Ltd (Tandem works) 1972-1997 – Eric Shaw
The Berkeley Teetotal Society First 100 – Rosemary Turner
and much more
VICE PRESIDENT: Judith Goodman
CHAIR: Keith PennyBULLETIN No. 204 DECEMBER 2017Emma Hamilton’s personal insignia see p.9
Left: Little Cross of St John of Jerusalem Right: Achievement of Arms
Photo David Bullock Photo courtesy The Nelson DispatchCONTENTS
Programme December 2017-April 2018 2
Visit to Charterhouse 4
Visit to the Wyvern Bindery, Clerkenwell 5
‘The Archaeology of the Merton Priory Site’ 6
Local History Workshop – 25 August 2017:
Berkeley first 100; Tram photos; Morden Road Cottages; Pharmacies; Emma’s insignia
Wartime Childhood in SW19 — John ‘Sandy’ Catanach
ATask Unfulfilled – Eric Shaw
The Berkeley First 100 – Rosemary Turner
‘Where do you think you are?’ – David Haunton
PROGRAMME DECEMBER 2017-APRIL 2018
Saturday 9 December 2.30pm Christchurch Hall, Colliers Wood
‘The Coach Road to Brighton’
An illustrated talk by Geoff Hewlett, author and ‘avid walker’, he says
Christ Church Hall is next to the church, in Christchurch Road, 250m from Colliers Wood
Underground station. Limited parking at the hall, but plenty in nearby streets or at the Tandem
Centre, 200m south. Buses 152, 200 and 470 pass the door.
NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE FOR MEETINGS IN WINTER AND SPRING 2018
Saturday 13 January 2018 2.30pm St James’s Church Hall, Merton
Short talks by Society members to include ‘The Berkeley Teetotal Society after the 100’;
‘Four WW1 Combatants’; ‘Bill Rudd’s photos – a local selection’; etc.
Saturday 10 February 2.30pm St James’ Church Hall, Merton
‘Listed Buildings of Mitcham’
An illustrated talk by Tony Scott, our Vice Chair
Wednesday 28 February 12.00 Taste Restaurant, Merton College
Full details are given on the enclosed booking form
Saturday 10 March 2.30pm St James’ Church Hall, Merton
‘History of the Conservators of Wimbledon & Putney Commons’
An illustrated talk by Simon Lee, the Chief Executive
Saturday 14 April 2.30pm St James’ Church Hall, Merton
‘For Valour – The Story of Merton’s VCs’
An illustrated talk by Sarah Gould, LBM Heritage
St James’ Church
Hall is in Martin Way,
next to the church
(officially in Beaford
Buses 164 and 413
stop in Martin Way
(in both directions)
The church has a tiny
car park, but parking
in adjacent streets is
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.
MAR TIN W A Y
BUSHEY RD KINGSTON RD
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 2
The Committee are in urgent need of volunteers with transport for the following responsibilities, initially for
our next four meetings, January – April 2018:
. someone to store the new screen and bring it to each meeting (as David Roe will have other commitments)
. someone to transport bags of current publications and act as bookstall manager, liaising with Peter Hopkins
on sales and stock (as Peter will no longer have a car)
. depending on the facilities at St James’ Hall, we may need someone to transport the urn for refreshments.
Our situation may be reviewed for the Autumn 2018 – Spring 2019 season of meetings.
Furthermore, it would be much appreciated if anyone could offer dry storage space for items saved from the
MHS store (much of it paper); even a square yard or two would be helpful.
The current Committee lack some modern skills and would appreciate introductions to people (perhaps junior
relatives?) who can offer advice on:
. setting up and running an E-bay account and
. colour and design for our next annual Programme folder.
HAVE YOU PAID?
Subscriptions for 2017-18 are now overdue. Please note that this will be the last issue to reach you if
we do not receive your payment before the March Bulletin. A
membership form was enclosed with the
Current rates are: Individual member £12, Additional member in same household £5
Full-time Student £5, Overseas member £15
Cheques are payable to Merton Historical Society and should be sent with completed forms to our
Membership Secretary, 27 Burley Close, LONDON SW16 4QQ.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 3
VISIT TO CHARTERHOUSE
On Thursday 10 August members joined a Brothers’Tour of the Charterhouse almshouse, ably conducted by
two of the Brothers, Charles Duff and Brian (whose surname alas I didn’t catch).
The site has a long history: in the 1340s Edward III gave to Sir Walter Manny a13-acre plot just outside the
City of London (the southern boundary of Charterhouse Square is the dividing line). During the Black Death
(1348) the Square was commandeered to bury plague victims because it was
outside the City. In 1371 Manny
and the Bishop of London gave the site to Charterhouse (Carthusian) monks, a quietist and vegetarian order,
whose monastery slowly became rich and successful. Alas, in 1535 Prior Houghton and several monks refused
to sign Henry VIII’s Act of Succession and were executed: the monastery was surrendered shortly thereafter,
and formally suppressed in 1538.
In 1545 it was bought by Sir Edward North who pulled down much of the building and built himself a manor
house, none of which survives. This passed to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who was executed in 1572,
and thence to his second son, who sold it for £16,000 to Thomas Sutton, ‘the richest commoner in England’.
Sutton was an arms dealer and usurer, and possibly the model for the character of Jonson’s Volpone, but when
he died in 1611 he left his fortune to set up the present charitable foundation, as noted by John Aubrey in his
The name is a polite nod to the medieval monks; the charity is not a religious one, but an almshouse and a
school. The school is now too big for the site, and has moved elsewhere, but Charterhouse still has an educational
learning centre. The Brothers living in the almshouse flats are single men or women, aged 60 or more, with
a need for living accommodation, who pay a means-tested rent. There are no female Brothers as yet, but the
Master is Anne Henry, the first female in the post.
The existing building is Tudor, built in 1555 with stone from the
monastery, and red brick. The old chapter house is now part of the
chapel; the original church has been demolished, the entry courtyard
now occupying the
contains many monuments,
notably that to Thomas Sutton (right). Afine organ reminds one of
the tradition of music here: pastorganists and players include George
Frederick Handel and Benjamin Cosyn, who produced a Virginals
Book of his own compositions. The current organist is a Brother.
The route to the downstairs Great Hall passes monuments to old
boys William Makepeace Thackeray, Roger Williams (the founder
of Rhode Island colony), Robert Baden Powell, and John Wesley,
as well as war memorials to the Crimean and South African wars.
WW2 bombs that demolishedthe ceiling, now restored, spared the
buttery screen of 1571. The hall was the old meeting house, and
is now used as a communal dining room. The room displays the
Sutton arms prominently, and portraits of past governors, including
that of the rebellious Duke of Monmouth (executed 1685). The
boys used to eat nearby in the Old Library, with its tapered wooden
pillars supporting the ceiling beams, and its portrait of the Duke of
Wellington as Prime Minister.
TheNorthCloisterpreserves alittleofthemonastery,as its stonebasedates from1371:asinglemonk’s celland
doorway survive, the others having been filled in and blocked. Originally about 100 yards long by only four or
five wide, it has a Tudor brick barrel vault, supporting an external walkway above, for the owner and guests to
view the grounds. This curiously shaped space has a place in sporting history, as the Charterhouse boys played
football within it and evolved a set of rules to govern play. These included keeping the ball low (or it went out
through the large unglazed window spaces), halting play until the throw-in (back through the window) if the
ball does go out, and a form of offside rule to stop boys of one team standing on the goal line of the other. In the
1840s, with the coming of the railways, widely separated football teams could meet. In 1863 a meeting was held
in Queen Street Tavern, to establish the Football Association (FA) and agree common rules. The Charterhouse
boys already had a set written down, and this was a major contribution to the FA Rules.
The upstairs Great Hall was occasionally used as a Council chamber by Elizabeth I. Originally there were
two fireplaces, but only one survives. The ceiling was slightly damaged in WW2, but was accurately restored.
However it was (wrongly) gilded later by Paget and Seely, who also introduced un-authentic modern chandeliers,
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 4
so the room now gives an idea of what 1950s restorers thought was Elizabethan interior decoration. There are
several outside courtyards, notably the Master’s with impressive stone and brick façades, where the broken-up
monastery window surrounds were relaid as courses of stone under Tudor windows.
The Charterhouse site is still owned by the charitable Foundation; a limited area is open to the public free of
charge (including the chapel), but more extensive tours are open now ‘for money'(which goes to the Foundation,
not the Brothers, we were hastily advised). There is a small and fascinating museum, featuring a huge and rare
map of the on-site water management c.1431, while the coffee at Thackeray’s (the Foundation’s café outside
the main gate) is to be recommended.
VISIT TO THE WYVERN BINDERY, CLERKENWELL
On 14 September 2017 we were made welcome at the
Wyvern Bindery, 56-58 Clerkenwell Road, London
EC1M 5PX. Wyvern produces bespoke bindings,
portfolios, menus, photograph albums and so forth,
worked on props for advertisements,
installations and artworks, as wellas forTVandfilms.
In view of the size of the premises, it was perhaps
fortunate that the visiting group was small. We were
greeted by Mark Winstanley, the proprietor, who
introduced himself, and told us how he got involved
in the business.
He then showed us samples of the
firm’s work, which ranged from PhD theses to antiques
that needed rescuing from terminal decay.
of binding, and basically how
they were done. He took us
us the different stages. Most of
thework was stilldonemanually,
as it has been done more or less
The interior of the shop was a
delight, full of materials and
semi-finished work, as well as
three specialist workers and tools
both traditional and modern.
Mark showed us various kinds
Mark demonstrated how gold leaf was applied to the titles on book covers, by use of type characters fitted into a
block, and how gold lines to form a border were applied with tools that resembled pizza cutters. Older machines
used to heat and press the leaf were gas-heated, but the firm also used a modern German-made electric one.
Mark let Bea have a go! She did her initials, not in real gold, and came away with a special souvenir.
We were shown one of Mark’s
favourite restoration projects, a
huge ledger that had belonged
to a gentlemen’s outfitters in
the City. The binding outside
(leather around sewn sections
glued together) was as skilful as
the clerk’s handwriting inside.
the lines for the accounts
had been hand-drawn.
Photographs: Shopfront © Yelp Co.; Interiors © Photographer Nicola Boccaccini, www.nicolaboccaccini.com
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 5
‘ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE MERTON PRIORY SITE’
On Saturday 14 October 2017 Dave Saxby from MOLAreminded us that it was 900 years since the re-founding
of the Augustinian priory of St Mary Merton on the Wandle site, and mentioned that it was 30 years almost to
the day from the start of his own archaeological career. He recognised some old acquaintances in the audience,
which was a little smaller than usual. Dave had raided the MOLAarchives of the various excavations, covering
1976-2004, and he showed us over 100 slides, many of them unpublished.
By 1898 only the extent of the precinct was obvious (from the priory wall), but there were no visible remains
of the internal buildings. In the 1920s Bidder excavated around Merton Abbey railway station, revealing the
church. His plan was exact – when some of his trenches were re-excavated to check, his measurements were
within four or five centimetres (two inches) of the modern ones.
Underneath the priory site, the rammed gravel of Roman Stane Street survived up to 60 feet wide in places,
and yielded a number of coins. A
number of late Saxon objects were found beside the road, but no Saxon
buildings. Documents tell us that a timber church was built in 1117, and a stone one was begun in 1125. No
physical evidence of this church was found, but it was rebuilt in the 1170s, and items from it were included in
this later church. This was an open monastery: it contained a school and was visited by King John just before
he witnessed Magna Carta.
In the 1220s-1230s Henry III financed much building which was ready in 1236 for a ‘big party’following his
wedding to Eleanor in Canterbury and her coronation in Westminster. The previous building campaign continued,
so we have two phases of (re-)construction intermixed. The original cloister and chapter house were rebuilt in
stone, and a separate cloister appeared, including a reredorter (toilet) and an infirmary complex, of hall, kitchen
and chapel. The church layout was similar to that of other great churches of the time. The church floor was
decorated with Reigate stone tiles and Westminster-type floor tiles (until c.1300 the same tile maker was making
the same designs, in London); in the middle of the church plain tiles had been cut into triangles and then laid
to make a pattern. The decoration, columns and windows of Holyrood, Edinburgh, are very similar to Merton
priory, probably because Alwyn, canon of Merton, founded the daughter house there. In c.1340 a Lady chapel
was added to the east end of the church, giving it a length greater than Westminster Abbey.
In 1976 Merton Abbey station was dismantled, allowing excavation of the priory chapter house, showing
buttresses hadbecomenecessary, as thewalls hadkeptslipping sideways offtheir foundations. Anapsehad been
added in the 14th century. The chapter house contained the graves of ‘posh teenagers’and was a public area, as
shown by the frieze of ‘dancing ladies’decorative tiles. Westminster tiles were also found, as were fragments
of deep blue, red and green stained glass – a rare find as medieval glass usually disintegrates.
Aslype (passageway) ran beside the chapter house to the infirmary chapel (for laying out the dead), the infirmary
itself, with its central hearth, and theinfirmary kitchen and lavatorium (for washing), all sited round theinfirmary
cloister. The kitchen had a pitched tile hearth and a big drain into a fishpond. The cloister had ornate carved
window frames, stained glass (fragments found had been painted with flowers and plants, one showing an angel
wing), Purbeck marble columns, and at least one ceiling boss carved with flowers and fruit, which was re-used
at Nonsuch. The infirmary, originally an open hall, was divided into separate rooms ‘after the Black Prince’s
time'(he died in 1376). One cell, about 3.5m square, was divided off by thin walls added between columns,
and given a tiled floor. This was possibly for a paying guest or pensioner, supplied with meat meals from the
kitchen. The infirmary needed more and more buttresses as the soil moved, and the 1989 excavation found
scaffold pole holes along one wall. Aseparate little room with a drain was possibly for blood-letting, seemingly
a regular date for monks, as it meant they were allowed a meat meal afterwards. Astone cupboard may have
been for medicines, as tweezers were found nearby.
Over 700 skeletons were excavated around the monastic buildings: one had a hernia belt (only three such are
known in the world), one had a badly broken leg that had healed perhaps two inches shorter than the other, one
had a copper disc on a knee with arthritis, and one was face down, possibly a criminal. 90% were of adults,
the men averaging 5ft 8.5in tall, the women 5ft 4in, showing they had enjoyed a good diet. Burial rite varied:
a kist of stones, a stone coffin with drain holes, wooden planks or only a shroud. One stone kist and three lead
coffins were found in the chapter house. Some graves contained objects such as belt buckles and a patten used
in church. There were 13th-century grave markers, children in small kists, and one coffin plate, for Michael
Small finds around the infirmary included various herbal seeds such as opium and black nightshade, dice for
choice of treatment (!), a glass phial for examining urine, a leather dagger scabbard, a Jews’-harp, a bull-roarer
toy for children, book clasps, book plates and styluses in the cloister, small spectacles, a gold love ring inscribed
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 6
‘I have no-one else but you’in Latin, an unusual pot hand-painted in red and green chevrons and circles, and
wooden bowls marked for individuals.
Other structures within the complex included a chalk-lined fish pond, others lined with wattle and clay (the
final one with an overflow drain), an isolated little building of unknown use, and a mill built in the 12th or 13th
century, which finally went out of use in the 19th. There was an early water tank, possibly for preparing skins
for parchment, which had been relined in the 16th century.
After the dissolution much material from the priory was sent for use in Nonsuch palace, leaving only a few
visible remains -a 15th-century chapel was not demolished until 1870 and the doorway to the guest house was
hidden in a later building and later removed to St Mary’s, Merton Park. The remaining lengths of the precinct
wall, probably of the 13th century, are to be surveyed by the National Trust, and some 20 weeks of work to
refurbish the chapter house are now imminent.
The infirmary and chapel together measured over 40m, and should still exist under tarmac, as there has been
no later deep construction. They were covered in sand before the planned building of Sainsbury’s Head Office
was abandoned. Still to find are the great hall and the central kitchens, and it would be nice to find the furnace
for casting the lead ingots known to have been supplied to Nonsuch.
Conjectural development of the site 12th to 15th century
© Pat Miller & David Saxby The Augustinian priory of St Mary Merton (MoLAS, 2007)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 7
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOP
Friday 25 August 2017 – Six present – Rosemary Turner in the chair.
. Following Keith’s item at a previous workshop, Peter Hopkins had found a copy of a teaching pack on the
Mizen family business, produced for Merton schools by Groundwork Merton. Some family photographs
had been annotated by a later family member -though we were unconvinced by some of the identifications,
compared with later photos.
While selecting photos for the new MHS website, Peter had rediscovered among Eric Montague’s archives
an originalphotographic printof ‘TheFirstHundred Members’of the Berkeley TeetotalSociety, which began
in June 1893 (see Bulletin 199). It contains a portrait of each person, ordered alphabetically by surname.
Each picture is tiny, about 6-7mm square, and it is very difficult to distinguish one person from another.
Peter has since scanned it at a high resolution and they enlarge to surprisingly clear images. (see p.14).
Following his recent exhibition at Emmanuel Church, Stonecot Hill, a church member had given Peter a
1950s postcard of the Crown inn at Morden and some press cuttings from local papers. Maybe more to
. Keith Penny had been dating some of the transport
photographs on Merton Memories. As examples he
showed a view
for Worple Road (ref. Wim_15_5-29)
where knowledge of trams and routes placed the picture
as 1926-1930, during which period the LCC ran summer
Sunday services fromLondon to Hampton Court. Apicture
of a tram with the destination ‘Mitcham Fair Green'(ref.
Wim_28_3-18) (right) could be dated to summer 1933: the
London Passenger Transport Board took control in July
1933 (their ownership could be seen on the lower panel of
thetram) and thetypeof trampictured ceased operation in
Mitcham at the end of 1933. Another clue was the white
cover on the cap worn by the driver, compulsory wear in
the summer months.
Keith had chosen a view of the Vestry Hall, Mitcham
(ref. Mit_Transport_24-1), for the cover of his Military
Tribunals book, and had found two dates for it on Merton
Memories,1906and1910.Mitcham Histories 5gave1906
and also suggested 1910 as the opening date of the tracks
from Fair Green to Cricket Green. Evidence in published
histories of the South Metropolitan system suggested that
the vehicle seen in the picture was repainted and modified
in 1906-7, and the register of inspections of tramways
in The National Archives recorded that all the Mitcham
tram routes were inspected for safety by the Board of
Trade inspector on 23 May 1906.The inspecting officer
was Lieutenant-Colonel Pelham George von Donop, who
reputedly passed his name to P
G Wodehouse when he Photo courtesy London Borough of Merton
was the future novelist’s godfather.
(from Merton Memories)
. Judy Goodman showed us some of
Bill Rudd’s photos taken in 1970.
of buildings in
Merton Road, including the ‘Morden
subject to an unsympathetic
planning application. Judy has
discovered that around 1900 they
were known as ‘Union Terrace’,
them. The photos
will shortly be
available on our website.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 8
. Rita Stanley recalled riding on trams starting from Wimbledon Town Hall. Upstairs was favourite, since
the backs of the seats could be moved fore and aft to suit the direction you wished to face. Riding on local
trolley-buses was another story.
. David Haunton reported on the Wimbledon Chase pharmacy. Norma Cox has kindly researched in the
Annual Registers of Pharmaceutical Chemists, the Superintendents Registers of Premises, and the Lists of
Bodies Corporate, and discovered that in 1950-1982 there
was no pharmacy, in 1982-1987 Cospharm Ltd
were at 292-294 Kingston Road, in 1989-1999 Mr S Jethwa was at the same address, naming his shop the
Mount Elgon Pharmacy, while in 2000-2005 Mr Jethwa’s Mount Elgon Pharmacy was at 304 Kingston
Road. Mr Raj Patel took over from Mr Jethwa, retaining the pharmacy name and premises, until he moved
the business to the Nelson Pharmacy. Mount Elgon is the largest extinct volcano in Africa. Raj told David
that Mr Jethwa was born in Tanzania, and during his boyhood lived quite close to the mountain, which he
used to see every day on his way to school. So it was as a reminder of his early days that he adopted the
name for his own pharmacy.
It is now evident that the The Chase Chemist pharmacyopposite
Wimbledon Chase Station, opened in 1938 by Mr Hau, had closed
by 1950, and that there was no chemist in the Chase between 1950
and 1982. Apparently properties in that area of Kingston Road had
been renumbered in 1999, as the Mount Elgon Pharmacy occupied
the same premises for the length of Mr Jethwa’s incumbency. We
by the tendency of pharmacies to be established
close to one another, especially when Rita mentioned that there
are currently no fewer than fourwithin the Raynes Park shopping
area, which is perhaps 600 yards long.
On the Art Sales Index website, David had found an illustration
of a portrait of the artist George Clausen by the ‘Wandle’artist
Dewey Bates (right). It is dated 1896, only two years before
Dewey died. Thus when Clausen mentioned his ‘old friend’
Dewey in a letter in 1895 he meant that their friendship was
continuous, as opposed to the Victorian convention of ‘someone
I met a long time ago and have not seen since’.
David Bullock is a direct descendant of Horatia, the daughter of Emma Hamilton and Nelson. When he and
his wife Ana visited Merton and met some MHS members, he mentioned that Emma had been decorated
with the Little
Cross of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (the Knights of Malta), due to her efforts in
relieving famine on the island of Malta. He sent photos of Emma’s insignia (front cover) and of the letter of
appointment, signed by the then Master of the Order, one Paul, the Tsar of Russia. Both items are now on
display in the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. David told us that in 1806 Emma had
successfully applied to the College of Arms for a personal coat of arms. This is discussed in an article in The
Nelson Dispatch, the quarterly journal of The Nelson Society, from which we have copied our illustration
of her achievement (front cover). The formal blazon is ‘Per pale or and argent, three lions rampant gules,
on a chief sable a cross of eight points argent’. The lozenge shape is correct for a Dame, a title with which
Emma could formally style herself as a member of the Order of St John. The lions are a punning reference
to her father’s surname (Lyons) and the Maltese cross is a reminder of her membership of the Order.
. Rosemary Turner had been told by family members how much they were enjoying the St Helier memories
website (see link on our website), with which Rosemary had been involved some years ago. People had sent
in their reminisces about theirchildhood, including the ice-cream supplier that Rosemary had mentioned at
a previous workshop. Some recalled that there was no warning or special teaching for the 11-plus exam at
their primary school: the children were just told there would be a test in the morning. Not surprisingly, few
More recently an old school friend’s sister who lives in New Zealand had come across the site and had
looked up Willows High School, which the three of them had attended, and had noticed some of the items
that Rosemary had contributed. It’s a small world.
Dates of next Workshops: Fridays 1 December 2017, 12 January, 2 March, 20 April 2018
2.30pm at Wandle Industrial Museum. All are welcome.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 9
JOHN ‘SANDY’ CATANACH remembers a
WARTIME CHILDHOOD IN SW19
I can still recall the deep anxiety shown on my mother’s face as we sat in the cupboard-under-the-stairs waiting
for death and destruction, or for the siren to sound ‘all-clear’, or for a doodle-bug to carry on chugging into
the distance. If you heard its engine shut off, you could be in big trouble. Under the stairs? We had no shelter
then, but much later were given a Morrison shelter, like a steel dining table caged-in with heavy mesh sides to
protect from flying debris. This became my ‘bedroom’.
I had been born in the Nelson Hospital on 31 July 1939 and our home was at 117 Kenley Road, SW19. I was
christened at St Mary’s, Merton Park, a month or so later, on 3 September, more or less at the same time of day
that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was announcing that Britain was at war with Germany. What must
my parents have thought the future held for them and their newborn?
WestayedinMertonPark. I was notevacuated,
as my father was on ‘war work’, but many
local children I met after the war had been
evacuated to the country. Each morning we
got up and checked for damage to our house,
cracked windows, broken roof tiles and so
forth, and then I was allowed outto go shrapnel
hunting. This was the abiding interest of all
small boysat the time and entailed ussearching
local roads for bits of bomb and anti-aircraft
shell, pieces of aeroplane and bullets. There
were surprising amounts to be found which
were taken to school to be swapped for other
pieces – what would Health and Safety say
now? We would also visit streetswhere bombs
had dropped during the last raid and even now,
some 70 odd years later, I could take you to
every one of these bomb sites, which became
our playgrounds for Cowboys and Indians in
the immediate post war years. One such lay at
the corner of Kenley Road and the main road
at Morden. I have a copy of a typical wartime
newspaper photo (right) which shows, not a
bomb site, but clearing up operations at nos.2
& 4 Richmond Avenue after
the Junkers 88
crashed there on 20 September 1940. The
Daily Herald caption claims that ‘residents,
Photo by Planet News Ltd (archive now held by Topfoto)
who were all in their air raid shelters, were all safely got out by Mr F G Paynter, an ARPinstructor’. [DH adds:
This was Frederick George Paynter, who lived at 303a Kingston Road, between Quintin Avenue and Richmond
Avenue, so he was on the spot. In fact one lady was killed, presumably not in her air raid shelter, so the newspaper
caption could be said to be correct, while not spreading despondency.] There is a website called ‘Bomb Sight’
using data from the National Archives (http://www.bombsight.org) which maps all bombs dropped during the
blitz from October 1940 to June 1941, though many more fell subsequently.
I don’t remember being frightened during the war except once when I thought a fighter plane was targeting me
in Poplar Road. I hid in the bushes. Nor do I remember going hungry though food was in short supply. Dried
egg powder (mixed with water and then fried like an omelette) was slightly rubbery but delicious, as was cod
liver oil in malt, and concentrated orange juice, but every child’s topmost wish was to see a banana, not even to
eat one, just to see one! This wish came true when a crowd of us opened-mouthed children stood gazing into a
butcher’s shop (yes, a butcher’s) in Morden at one single banana hanging on a hook in the window. This must
have been in 1946 when the government declared National Banana Day as 3 January when ‘all children should
have a banana’. I regret I don’t remember this at all.
In about September 1944 I started school at Merton Park Primary, where Miriam Benham (always of course
‘Miss Benham’) was head mistress. The playground air raid shelters, two single-storey brick built edifices,
were on the right hand side if one stood in Erridge Road by the small gate. Naturally all the pupil’s loos were
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 10
outside then, the girls’by the shelters and the boys’by the Erridge Road fence between the gate and the alley
leading through to Church Lane.
My father, George MacdonaldCatanach, was 39 when the war started, so a little old for military service. During
the war he ran a small factory in Borough High Street, SE1, manufacturing Tommy Cookers for the troops
to use in the field. During peacetime
the company was Henry Flack Ltd
of specialist varnishes
He became an ARP
Warden and was
based at a post in Crown Lane, Morden,
opposite the Baptist Church. This was
in addition to his job, often doing a
full day’s work and then night patrols
with the ARP, very arduous. I still have
two pictures of him in groups of ARP
wardens. The first (right) was taken at
the Old Rutlishians’
with Poplar Road and poplar trees in the
background, and probably dates from
about 1940. My father is on the right
at the end of the back row.
have been taken outside the ARP
post in Crown Lane, near Dr Orr’s
surgery. At that time there were
allotments on the corner where the
Crown Housecar park mustbenow.
My father has obviously earned his
stripes and now sits in the front row,
third from right, so I’m guessing at
a date of 1943/4.
I think top row right is Peter Furner,
who lived at no.86, Grasmere
Avenue, the first house on the right
at the Kenley Road end. Mr Furner
and his wife (who I knew as ‘Aunt
Ida’) were bombed out in the war
and came to live with us for a while.
I remember they had a chow dog.
In the middle row, second from the left, is Theodore Laky John Piers (always known as ‘Lackey’) who was
Burmese and a great friend of my father. He and his wife Shelagh lived at no.20 Grasmere Avenue, at the far
end, opposite the Baptist Church and close to O’Donoghue the dentist. My father said that Mr Piers suffered
some snide remarks owing to his original nationality but said he had chosen to live in England and was happy
to do his bit!
I think the second picture (left) must
To celebrate the launch of our new website we are running a ‘Three for the Price of Two’offer on any
titles in Eric Montague’s Mitcham Histories series. Ideal to give as Christmas presents – or to spend the
money you receivefor Christmas! Threebooks for £9.60 to members (£11.90 to others) plus £2.90 postage.
So BUYTWO AT £4.80 EACH AND GETTHE THIRD FREE!
All our publications are available by post from
Publications Secretary, 57 Templecombe Way, Morden, Surrey SM4 4JF.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 11
ERIC SHAW recalls responsibilities at Tandem works and
A TASK UNFULFILLED
I worked at the Tandem works of Fry’s Metals Ltd from 1972 until retiring in 1997. One of the positions I held
was Hygiene Officer, which required me to take atmospheric samples for analysis. These were needed because
the operations carried out involved lead or alloys containinglead. Asample was taken by using a pump to draw
the atmosphere of interest through a fine filter paper, which trapped any particulate matter, and was then sent
to the laboratories for analysis.
Pumps were of various sizes, and could be powered by batteries (all of which I had to keep charged) or run from
the mains. Taking samples from a worker involved attaching the smallest size of pump to their belt, with the
intake probe clipped as near to their nose as possible, so it was usually fixed on their collar. (With ladies this
operation could be a little delicate.) They would wear this for an hour or so, after which I retrieved it. Arather
larger pump was used to sample the area in which they were working. I carried out these operations not only at
the Tandem works and at the Willow Lane depot and foundry, but also in Kidderminster, Rochdale, Glasgow
(once a year) in Dublin, where branches of Fry’s were located. (The Willow Lane site, on the
corner with Wates Way, had been a Ministry of Supply works for scrapping aircraft fuselages, and was later
passed to Fry’s.)
When I was at any of the branches I also sampled the emissions from the Filter / Cyclone stacks (chimneys).
Once a month I sampled the emissions from the main stack at Tandem works over a twenty-four hour period.
Interestingly, this stack was made of steel, all others on the site being built of bricks. Sampling was from a
position 60 feet high up the stack, and used our largest pump, which was far too heavy for me to carry. There
was a derrick (a short swivelling arm with a pulley) attached to the stack, and I would use this to haul the pump
up to working height and then to swing it onto my working platform. I climbed up to the platform on a steel
ladder permanently fixed to thestack, wearing my ‘safety devices’-works overalls, gloves and ahard hat. There
was a four-inch diameter sampling port in the stack, normally closed with a plug. For sampling, I replaced this
with another one, with a hole in it to admit the probe. My interest in the weather started from this time because
there was no way that I was going to take samples if there was rain forecast during the next twenty-four hours.
The views from 60 feet up were interesting, especially when Savacentre and Merantun Way were being built.
I took several photographs from this point, using the works camera (which I also had in my charge). Wandle
Industrial Museum now hold my photos in their archive.
Samples were also taken from the surrounding streets. This was when leaded petrol was used to power vehicles.
We could differentiate between our emissions and those from road traffic, because our emissions contained
other metallic elements in addition to lead, whereas traffic emissions contained lead only. Our emissions were
usually within the limits imposed: we were periodically inspected by the Alkali Inspectorate. Traffic emissions
were not analysed. What a difference now with Diesel fuel!
I also used to visit some of the London newspapersat night, in the daysof ‘hot metal’printing, to take atmospheric
samples from and around the areas where the metal print was being cast. Various stained glass workshops
(mainly in the Isleworth area)were also visited, because of the fumes from soldering the lead frames, again to
take samples for analysis. Fry’s provided this service for their customers.
Potentially the most interesting project that I would have had was in the crypt at Christchurch, Spitalfields.
The crypt was being cleared for a day-centre and containedmany lead coffins. The local Factory Inspector was
concerned about lead levels while the coffins were being cleared. Fry’s was on his list of companies who provided
a sampling service. Because some of the bodies in the coffins died from smallpox I would have had to have been
inoculated. By the time this would have happened the crypt was cleared, so I never went. Subsequently it was
found that there was no risk from smallpox. In one of their Chronicle series the BBC produced a programme
called ‘The Skeletons of Spitalfields’
about the crypt clearance and the re-interment of the bodies. It is an
interesting programme of which I have a copy to remind me of a project which I never carried out.
Eric’s photos © jointly with Wandle Industrial Museum (where Eric is a frequent volunteer).
[Editor’snote: There were probably fewer than a dozen firmsin the London area offering an air-sampling service
such as Fry’s. I can trace no details of the actual use of such services, as opposed to the advertising of them.
Thus I believe Eric Shaw’s account here to be unique.]
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 12
View looking west
The ornamental dome
atop the tower of the
Tandem main office block
is centre right. Merton
Abbey Mills can be
seen in the background
along with Runnymede.
As the Savacentre and
Merantun Way are open,
Eric probably took this
photo in 1987 or 1988.
The area in front has
now been built on.
Eric took this photo
prior to the opening of
Merantun Way in 1986,
so in 1984 or 1985.
nearly all the
one that Eric
used to climb
had not been
was taken, so
its position is
shown by the
Photo © Fry’s
(now Alpha Fry
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 13
ROSEMARY TURNER has a look at some of
THE BERKELEY FIRST 100
Sometime ago in the Phillimore book Old Mitcham I came across a copy of a
photograph commemorating the first 100 members ofthe Berkeley Teetotal Society,
Mitcham, each shown in a tiny portrait. Edited by Eric Montague, the book contains
a selection of photographs by Tom Francis; Eric says that this particular photo is
not one of Tom Francis’s, but does not state its origin. I made enquiries but could
not find where it came from, until recently Peter Hopkins found it amongst some of
Eric’s research papers. With the aid of reading glasses and a magnifier I was able
to make out the names under the photos. Some of the names appear in the various
Mitcham Histories, either at length or just as a mention.
The photos are numbered and members listed alphabetically apart from Member 100 George
Pitt, who with his wife founded the Society in 1893. George was not a teetotaller but legend
has it that during a disagreement with his wife he stated that if she found 99 people willing
to sign the pledge he would be the hundredth. She did and he was. He and his wife organised
and supported the Society financially until he retired in 1898. He was born in the London
Store, London Road, which his father owned. George ran it for a time before making over
the business to Tom Francis, senior, and Eliza Cooper (later to become Mrs Francis) who
both worked in the shop. George and his wife were both Quakers and held meetings in their
various homes including Berkeley House.
Member 72 Priscilla Pitt (née Marsh) 1829-1899, was George’s wife. She had been an
abstainer since early childhood. She met George at a Croydon Friends meeting and they
were married in 1860, she being age 32 at the time of their marriage. She initially held
temperance meetings in her home, possibly to mainly Quaker members. According to the
memoir of her written by her son (re-published by MHS as Local History Note no.33), she
took a deep interest in the poor of the parish and took on many official and unofficial roles
relating to this. She set up a Band of Hope encouraging and educating children about the
problems associated with drinking.
George and Priscilla had just one adult child, a son, others having died. Their
son, Member 70 John Marsh Pitt, lived at Shamrock Villa, Mitcham Park
Road, with his wife, Member 71 Emily H D Pitt. John was named Marsh after
his mother’s father. He took on the role of Secretary of the Berkeley Society.
John Marsh Pitt was a close friend of Member 26 Tom Francis, junior, who
was living at London
House, London Road,
where he was born. The
Francis family werealso
Quakers. Tom’s sister Hannah is Member 27, while Member
28 is his brother William; all three are unmarried at this
time. Tom and William both became committee members
and they each oversaw one of the Society’s districts. Tom
was the local historian and photographer.
Some of the other names in the 1853 photo appear in various Mitcham Histories, either at length or just as a
line. The membership covered all areas of society. There are no addresses given but if they continued their
membership their address appears in the list produced by John Marsh Pitt in 1895. There are a number of names
missing from the later list. John Marsh refers to them as ‘removals’which covers, death, breaking the pledge,
moving away or ‘whereabouts unknown’. so I am using the 1891 census
to try to find out something about them.
The most elaborate photograph of the group is of Mrs E J Upton, Member
94, who is mentioned in vol 11 page 99 under residents at The Canons. It
just says that she appears in the Directories for 1890/1 living at The Canons.
The 1891 census shows her there as a widow with her son, a coffee planter,
and several staff including Member 14 Charlotte Bloomfield who was her
cook. Neither she or her employer are on the later listing. Charlotte was no
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 14
longer employed by Mrs Upton. The 1901 shows Mrs Upton living at Elmhurst and one of the 1891 servants
had been promoted to cook. I could find no sign of Charlotte on the census.
Another flamboyant photo is of Member 84 Walter Samson, dressed in his working clothes.
His occupation on the 1891 census was coachman and he was living with his widowed mother
and sister at the Broadway, Mitcham. His father Philip Samson had been a coach proprietor
with premises next to the White Hart in Mitcham. Walter’s brother was a licensed victualler
at the Kings Head, later named the Burn Bullock. Walter is another who does not appear on
the 1895 list. In 1901 Walter and his sister are living in Hurlingham Mansion in Fulham, both
living on Independent means.
Member 6 C W
Benger appears in my 1910 Valuation
Records publication. He is leasing land at Lodge Farm
from the Hoare family. In 1891 he is living in one of the Allen cottages, East
Field, with his wife Member 7 and his family. His occupation is Nursery man
and florist. One of his children is a pupil teacher and another is a labourer
in nursery ( I assume this means plants not babies).
Members 17 and 18 John T
carman, and Ann Brown his wife are also
living at Allen Cottages and they have a
lodger, Alfred Brown, who is also a carman.
He could be Member 20 Alf D Brown. The
photo also has a Hy Brown (Member 19 )
but I have not been able to find a definite
listing on the census for him.
Members 54 and 55 J M and M ALeather are John M Leather, a nurseryman
and florist, and Mary Ahis wife, also living in the Allen cottages. I did wonder
if it was a term
of their tenancy or employment but there were 16 cottages
and only 3 are represented here.
Member 1 is Anne Allen of Sherborne House, Tamworth Lane, which was near
the Eastfield level crossing. In 1891 the family is not yet living at Sherborne
but they are in 1901. The head of the house Thomas Allen is a retired market
gardener. There is a son Lemuel, Member 2, who is a gardener and florist
on the 1891 census. He is married by 1901 and living in Dundonald Road,
Wimbledon, as a green and provision merchant. Another son, Member 3 Charles M W, was listed as a moulder
in 1891 but by 1901 he is helping his mother in her grocery shop. The nearest I can get to an Anne is a daughter
Nellie Awho is a mothers help. There are nine children in
1901, but in 1891 there had been fourteen, five having left
home. Three of the children were teachers.
In vol 3 of the Mitcham Histories Eric writes about the
Misses Allen of Sherborne House, who had lived in the
house for many years and were the daughters of the owner.
Their family had been landowners
since the 1600s. The
sisters were landlords for the Allen Cottages which had been
built to house local workmen in the 1870s.
Eric mentions one of the sisters as Lizzie but there is no mention of an Anne. Lizzy L
is listed as one of the
daughters onboththe1891and1901censuses. Sherbornehousewas demolishedinthe1970s
along with other buildings, to make way for a road that was planned but didn’t happen.
It wouldn’t be Mitcham without a Mizen. Member 61 Fred Lewis Mizen, market gardener
and labourer, son of Walter and Emma, was living at the Nursery, Killicks Lane, Mitcham,
with his parents and siblings. By the time the 1895 list appears no fewer than seven of the
family are abstaining.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 15
‘WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?’
This exhibition, a joint enterprise by the John Innes Society and St Mary’s Church to proclaim the history of
the Merton Park area, was held on the afternoons of 2 and 3 September, on three different sites.
The Coach House in Melrose Road had a display packed with maps, photographs, drawings and notes from
the archives of the John Innes Society, curated by John Harding (and subsequently on display for a month to a
at the Local Studies Centre in Morden Library). The church had explanatory hand-outs about
the features of the building, co-ordinated by Hazel Abbott and supported by helpful stewards, and new editions
Churchyard Trail and its associated Guide. The church hall offered tea and cakes for sale, a Scotland
Yard episode from Merton Park Film Studios (notable for the number of identifiable local sites) which was
shown continuously, local house plans from Finch’s estate agents, local railway memorabilia by and with Bruce
Robertson, a display by the Friends of John Innes Park, and the MHS stand. By a happy coincidence, John,
Hazel and Bruce are all also MHS members.
Attendance was high; over 150 visitors came on the
Saturday and well over 200 on the Sunday, with most
people visiting all three sites. We answered quite
of questions, David Luff’s Sindy doll panels
(above) attracted a great deal of attention, and were
rarely without an audience, while displays from our
new website were much inspected. Each initial panel
through a sequence of captioned pictures; many people
watched an entireset, reading and commenting on the
captions, but very few took up our offer to use our
laptop to explore further. We showed a limited set of
our publications, cunningly chosen by Peter Hopkins
the title, and as a result sold more than £95-worth.
Unprecedentedly, we ran out of copies of some titles!
All this, and
we enrolled a new member. Altogether
a very satisfactory couple of days.
We are most grateful to the John Innes Society and St Mary’s for their invitation to take part.
DJH, Photos by David Luff
Letters and contributions for the Bulletin should be sent to the Hon. Editor,
by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this Bulletin are
those of the contributors concerned and not necessarily those of the Society or its Officers.
website: www.mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk email: email@example.com
Printed by Peter Hopkins
Launching the new website
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 204 – DECEMBER 2017 – PAGE 16